Chinhoyi’s audit department too weak to deal with corruption

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

CHINHOYI Mayor, Garikai Dendera says the municipality’s audit department lacks resources to adequately deal with financial malfeasance and rampant corruption dogging the local authority.

The critical department, tasked with unearthing underhand and unethical deals, is ill-equipped and understaffed.

Council has one permanent staffer in the audit unit namely Mark Choga, who is internal audit manager, who works with at least two inexperienced graduate trainees.

Speaking to, Dendera said Local Government minister July Moyo had red flaggged the lack of resources in the audit department and called for its strengthening due to the pivotal role it plays in fighting corruption within the municipality.

The audit department was recently allocated a brand-new Nissan NP300 vehicle, which was among the latest four cars bought by council.

“The audit department is a very critical component which the parent Ministry has emphasised needs strengthening to be able to detect and fight corruption within council. Allocation of resources to this important unit has been long overdue,” said Dendera.

“There is a staff shortage as the auditor currently works with graduate trainees, therefore we need to recruit to ensure there is a full staff complement.

“We will be doing phased recruiting of staff in different departments, including municipal police, as presently council is financially humstrung to employ all at once. We don’t want to burden ourselves with an unsustainable wage bill.”

Plagued by rampant corruption, particularly in the allocation of residential property stands and a shambolic traffic management system, Chinhoyi continues to lose millions of dollars in potential revenue.

Last year, the auditor earned plaudits after exposing a shady parking deal entered by council and Clyna Trading five years ago.

Following the revelation, council resolved to terminate the deal.

Cancellation of the obscure Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) curiously came a few weeks before its expiry, raising eyebrows why the local authority went for years without raising the red flag on the suspicious contract, where the firm was responsible for electronic billing and collection of fees, rentals, towing, clamping and other applicable rates for motor vehicles.

Among the reasons for terminating the contract, Chinhoyi Municipality alleged gross financial impropriety by Clyna Trading, which was operating without a tax clearance certificate.

The firm was also accused of siphoning money through ‘dubious’ bank accounts, with one glaring instance in which deposits for parking fees were made into an account linked to Lash Boutique in Harare, which is reportedly owned by Clyna Trading director Clyde Makusha’s wife.

The private company also reportedly failed to upgrade and automate bus termini as per the MoU while the ZW$17 000 yearly dividend declared to council, further exposed the financial malfeasance.

An adverse report by council internal auditor highlighted the absence of proper books of accounts, opening the possibility of massive cash leakages running into millions of dollars.